Colorful Food Photography – Behind the Scenes
April 23, 2018
7 min. read
If you subscribe to our blog each week or follow us on social media, you probably know that we’re always cooking up new recipes and sharing them across our various platforms. The reason we do this is to showcase our delicious products while also demonstrating unique techniques and usage occasions from which our fans can garner inspiration.
We’re well aware that consumers are often leery or suspicious of corporate-driven communication. If you think back to the last fast food commercial you saw, there is likely a discrepancy between the appearance of a meal on television and what the same food looks like in real life…
We get that food photography can often be misleading, which is why we make it a habit to be true to life with our marketing imagery and communication. Here at Martin’s, we don’t use fake food, extensive photoshopping, or deceptive “tricks” to style our food…we’re just regular people making real food using real ingredients. We cook the majority of our recipes in-house with a small team of 4-5 people, all with you—our fans and customers—in the forefront of our minds.
We hope you enjoy this in-depth, behind-the-scenes look into our recipe creation and food photography process, plus an introduction to our marketing team, and finally, some delicious new recipes for you to try!
We try to stay “in the know” about recent food trends and seasonal specialties, so we do quite a bit of research ahead of time while planning the themes for each photoshoot (and corresponding blog post). We cook up new recipes just about every week, usually in line with a particular theme. We aim for 2-3 recipes per photoshoot and often pair these with existing recipes we’ve done in the past.
We look for recipes that we think our fans would love to try, but we also keep in mind our customer base and make sure to stay true to our brand. We’re certainly not expert culinarians (you won’t see us trying to prepare fois gras any time soon), which is okay because we know most of our customers aren’t either.
We’re also not trying to be something we’re not. We know who we are and what our customers want to see from us whether it be burgers, sandwiches, or party appetizers. That being said, we still like to experiment with new types of food and think of creative uses for our products. In doing so we can act as a sort of brainstorming board for our customers to discover new ways to enjoy our products.
In the research phase, we scour the internet for intriguing recipes that fit whichever theme we are trying to highlight. This might be anything from “summer grilling recipes” to “bread pudding variations.” We gain inspiration from mainstream recipe websites and up-and-coming bloggers and foodies. We look for recipes that are fairly easy to recreate and seem accessible to the “average” person.
With our recipe inspiration decided, we get to work preparing the food and putting our own special spin on our creations. An important note about this process is that we’re preparing these recipes using real food. We make weekly trips to the grocery store to buy fresh produce. We prepare the food in a real kitchen using real utensils like cutting boards, chef’s knives, and the occasional slow cooker. Sure, we take the occasional shortcut (like using precooked rotisserie chicken) in order to save time…but it’s important to us that we do things the right way. After all, how can we expect our fans and customers to try a new recipe if we haven’t even attempted it ourselves?
This step occasionally involves taking some creative liberties, interpretations, or reinventions of classic dishes (like when we used breadcrumbs as pie crust…or that time we turned Martin’s Long Rolls into “taco shells.”) Surprisingly enough, these recipes turned out to be quite delicious.
…Which leads us to the next part. Yes—we really eat the food we prepare! We might not eat everything in its entirety, like you would at a sit-down family dinner, but usually each member of the marketing team (and whoever else happens to wander into the kitchen while following their nose) tries a bite of each dish to give their thumbs up or a recommendation. The cool thing about this is that since everyone has his or her own preferences (like how one of us hates mayonnaise and another hates hot dogs), we hear a wide array of viewpoints and perspectives. So, with everyone vetting the recipes through their own unique filter, we more closely resemble the average population. Plus, you can trust that if a recipe passed through upwards of five or six “critics,” it has to be really good!
A Few More Notes
Now—let’s not pretend we haven’t had our share of food “fails.” Not every recipe interpretation turns out as expected, but we learn from these mistakes and adjust recipes as needed, often adding “tips” or “notes” to the published recipe, providing extra direction or clarification. After all…we are not professional chefs. And that just makes the food all the more realistic.
So many people think of corporate food photography as the pristine, perfect, flawless “fake” food or beauty shots you see in commercials…But what you see from Martin’s is what you get—real food that just happens to really look (and taste) that appetizing!
Meet the Team
Our in-house marketing team includes Katie Gantz, Becky Vega, Brian Cordell, Wendy Cowan, Alex Yoder, and Julie Martin (not pictured). Together, we produce all of the content for our website, social media sites, online advertising, and in-store marketing, in addition to performing many other tasks.
In terms of our weekly photoshoots, each team member’s role is described below.
Becky helps choose the recipes for each theme category. Although she works remotely, she gets to enjoy the food photography from afar and participate in photoshoots every once in a while. She also uploads the finalized recipes to Martin’s website and writes and publishes each blog post.
“The Chef and Food Stylist”
Katie masterfully cooks and prepares the recipes each week in Martin’s marketing team kitchen. Some weeks she finds she cooks more at work than at home. In fact, there have even been recipes and methods she’s tried for the first time at Martin’s. They’ve turned out so well that she’s made use of them at home too. Some of her firsts? Using a dutch oven, cutting a papaya (and an avocado), and making chicken and dumplings (out of bread).
Brian is the actual professional in the room. J He expertly photographs our products and recipes, paying special attention to things like lighting, balance, and composition. He has a great eye for detail and never fails to make the finished product look as beautiful and appetizing on the screen (or in print) as in real life.
“The Videographer and Miscellaneous Assistant”
Alex often helps out at the photoshoots by shooting behind-the-scenes video and pictures for use in social media promotions, taste testing the finished recipes, and helping out wherever needed.
“The Food Critic”
Wendy, our marketing manager, is our personal taste tester and food critic, and also helps out in the kitchen by prepping or cleaning when needed. She usually tests a bit of each recipe we create and provides feedback or recommendations. She’s partial to healthier recipes like salads and our recent Ploughman’s Sandwich.
Featured Recipes: Colorful Spring Produce
What better way to highlight our food styling and photography than with the vibrant colors of seasonal spring produce like bright citrus fruits, fresh herbs, and various colorful veggies. We hope you enjoy these refreshing toast recipes that are as picturesque as they are delicious!
Sweet herb-infused honey and creamy whipped ricotta are the perfect complement to the tart flavor burst of grapefruit and orange slices. Piled onto toasted Martin’s Butter Bread, these toasts are a perfect brunch or light snack option.
Layered with contrasting colors, flavors, and shapes, this artistic toast is almost too pretty to eat! Top toasted Martin’s Butter Bread with beet-flavored hummus, shaved carrots, thin-sliced pickled onions, sugar snap peas, and black sesame seeds…or create your own colorful variation!
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